February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness day and Calvin Holbrook has some great ideas for paying it forward. From complimenting strangers to gifting books, spread a little happiness with these 22 inspiring acts of kindness. 


Originally founded by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation in 1995, the idea of random acts of kindness day has grown in popularity ever since. It's celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations worldwide, to encourage acts of kindness and spread happiness through communities. Indeed, the day represents 24 hours when people have the chance to focus on spreading love and happiness to as many people as possible.

And being kind is not just beneficial to the person on the receiving end of the good deed: in fact, random acts of kindness lead to scientifically-proven positive feelings for the giver and receiver. Indeed, it's known that the power of kindness is truly potent. Furthermore, happiness is contagious, creating a ripple effect. So, this Random Acts of Kindness Day – and every day come to think of it – try some of these 22 ideas and help to brighten someone's day!


Random acts of kindness: 22 great ideas

1. Compliment a stranger

All humans seek connection, but in Western society it’s not easy to strike up a conversation with a total stranger without them doubting your intentions. However, if you spot a someone in the street with a lovely smile, face, beautiful jacket – or anything else that grabbed your interest – why not let them know? They’re sure to be flattered by your compliment and you might even lead to a deeper conversation or friendship.


2. Give up your seat on the bus or metro

Traveling to or from work on public transport is rarely pleasant, especially if you're stuck on your feet (worse still, with someone's armpit in your face). On your next bus or metro ride, if you’re lucky enough to have a seat, gift it to a stranger who looks like they need it more than you. The happiness you get from this random act of kindness will make standing just that little bit more bearable. 


3. Gift a book to someone

Do you have a favourite memoir, work of fiction, or self-help book that’s inspired you or made you LOL? Instead of letting it gather dust on your bookshelf, pass those powerful pages onto someone you think could benefit from the words and messages inside. Ask that once they’ve finished the book, they pass it on, too, spreading the kindness even further.

Words work: gift a book and happiness


4. Share your favorite song on social media

Research suggests that listening to the music we love helps us to be kinder, creative and more helpful. Share your favorite track on social media and maybe you can help spread joy or even introduce your friends to some new sounds they will fall in love with. 


5. Call a family member or friend

In our increasingly busy world, it seems there’s never quite enough time to keep up with all the loved-ones in our lives. However, random acts of kindness day provides the perfect opportunity to make time. Call or Skype a family member of friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with. And don't forget to tell them you love them: those three words will always brighten anyone's day. 

“Random acts of kindness lead to scientifically-proven positive feelings, both for the giver and receiver.”


6. Pick up litter

Trash is a blight on the neighborhood and a real eyesore. If you spot some rubbish on the floor, just take a few seconds to pick it up and put it in the nearest bin. For a deeper effect, join a litter-picking session at your nearest park or beach: this activity benefits the community as a whole and also provides you with a chance to meet new people. That's a real win-win situation. 

RELATED: Why is volunteering important?


7. Leave a sticky note for someone

A quick, easy and fun random act of kindness idea, is to write an uplifting messages on a sticky note and leave it randomly on your travels. Or, get specific, and leave a sticky smile or note of love for a colleague, housemate, partner, or a family member. It's quick, cute and fun. 

Stick it to them: leave a perky Post-it note on random acts of kindness day


8. Leave food for a homeless person

Giving money to the homeless isn’t always such an easy decision as we wonder if how they spend it will benefit them or not. And sometimes we even question if the person begging is really homeless at all. As an alternative to giving money, leave some fruit, nuts, or a sandwich – something nutritious. Or, leave some warm clothing, a clean blanket or hygiene supplies. 


RELATED: The power of kindness 


9. Better still, talk with a homeless person

Imagine having thousands of people walk past you daily, deliberately avoiding your gaze or even looking at you with contempt. Without the right safety nets, any one of us reading this could lose our home. Take a few minutes to chat with homeless people about their lives: what's their name? How did they end up here? Do they have a place to sleep? It will certainly make them feel just that little bit more human. 


“Leave a sticky smile or note of love for a colleague, housemate, partner, or a family member. It's quick, cute and funny.”


10. Brighten someone’s day with a plant

Forget flowers (they die too fast!). Plants can be cheap and very cheerful. They are natural pick-me-ups and, because they need care to survive, encourage the nurturing side of humans. Buy one for a friend or work colleague, or even give it anonymously to increase the mystery of this random act of kindness. Or, why not be kind to yourself and treat yourself to a beautiful plant: go on, you deserve it! 

Bloomin' marvellous: be kind and give a plant


11. Donate to charity

As spring approaches, it’s a great chance to have a big refresh. So, clear out your wardrobe and donate a bag of your bits to your preferred charity shop. For the full double deed of kindness, while you’re dropping off your donation, consider buying something as well. Buying more from charity shops instead of new is good for the environment


12. Leave some art for someone

Another cool random act of kindness idea is to use your creativity to change someone’s day. Leave a poem, mandala, drawing, painting or doodle somewhere in the community at let someone randomly discover it. The surprise will be sure to put a grin on their face. 


“Gift a plant for random acts of kindness day. Plants are natural pick-me-ups, because they need care to survive and encourage the nurturing side of people.”


13. Bake some cakes for colleagues

Whip up some sweet treats in the oven and bring them into the workplace to share with your colleagues (yes, even those colleagues that you don’t always get along with – it's time to show some compassion on random acts of kindness day!). The fact that you’ve made something to share personally will make all the difference, too.


14. Send a postcard to someone you love

Remember snail mail? Remember the joy of seeing a handwritten letter land on your doormat? In this digital age, it happens less and less, so, use this day to change that. It doesn’t matter if you’re not away on holiday: even if you're at home, buy a nice postcard, a stamp, and spend a couple of minutes penning some loving lines to someone you care about. They're sure to get a buzz when it lands on their mat! 

Postcard it forward: get crafty to be kind


15. Buy local or independently

Skip Amazon for the day. Support your nearby community by buying something from a local, independent store rather than an online shop or chain store. OK, it may be a little more expensive, but your purchase will help support local businesses and their families. Better still, make it a gift for someone else and you’ve killed two kindness birds with one stone. 


16. Have a judgement-free day

Make Random Acts of Kindness Day a day free of judgement: in thoughts, words and actions. Don't let your fears or insecurities affect how you're thinking. 


17. Connect with those that serve others

When buying or ordering something, we often fail to engage fully with those who are serving us from behind the counter. So, this random acts of kindness day, next time you stop for petrol, a coffee or food, ask your server how their day is going, what time they clock off, or compliment them on something. And certainly don't browse the net or chat on your mobile phone while they're helping you: that's just rude!

Service with a smile: connect with those that serve


18. Change your lightbulbs to energy efficient ones

If you haven’t done so already, be kind to yourself and the environment by ensuring all your lightbulbs in your home are energy efficient. While they may seem more expensive, in the long-run, switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the best ways to cut your energy bill. Plus, you don’t have to replace them so often. Easy.


”Support your nearby community by buying something from a local, independent store, rather than an online shop or chain store.”


19. Speak with a senior

Research suggests that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. If you have elderly neighbours, pop round to chat over a cup of tea. Or, if you see a senior in a shop or street and there’s a way to engage with them, do so. Sometimes, the elderly don’t speak to people for days on end and their only contact is through going shopping. Consider inviting an elderly neighbor in for a coffee to chat; you're sure to learn something from them, too.  

Help the aged: connect with your elders


20. Pay it forward with a coffee

A tried and tested idea for an act of random kindness, offering to pay for the caffeine fix of someone else in the queue is an inexpensive and easy way of spreading some cheer. It's quick and gets immediate results (mine's a soya cappuccino, thanks!).


21. Be kind on social media

Twitter and Facebook can be full of negativity, bitter trolls and oneupmanship. At the same time, we often get in the habit of breezing through social media posts and articles without actually reading things properly. Change all that by being nice. If you read a social media post or a well-written article that touches you, take a few seconds to leave a positive comment and let the author know. Why not start by telling us what you think of this article below? ;)


22. Our final random act of kindness: share this post! 

Speaking of sharing, your last act of random kindness could be to share this article on social media and help to spread love and happiness as far and wide as possible. Let's all try to make a difference together! ●

Main image: Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock.com


How many of these random acts of kindness ideas have you tried? How did they go? Has anyone ever surprised you with one of these tips? 


Written by Calvin Holbrook

calvin.holbrook.jpegCalvin edits the happiness.com magazine, as well being an artist and lover of swimming, yoga, dancing to house/techno, and all things vintage! Find out more.



Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, please Login to post with your account.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

There are no comments to display.

Similar articles

Forum discussions